Odd Man Out

oddI was listening to NPR on the ride home last night and I heard an interesting story.  It was about shared experiences and they interviewed two people who had lost spouses suddenly.  One had been widowed a few months ago, the other years ago.  The person who was recently widowed asked the widowed “veteran” if he was ever able to resume his old life.  His answer as you might expect was no, things are never the same again.

I was struck by parallels in my own life.  Parenthood changes everything.  The person you are before having kids only vaguely resembles the person you are after you have kids.  But for most people their new life falls into predictable patterns the others can relate to.  Having a child with a rare diagnosis like VACTERL puts you on a completely different path that few can relate to.

This different path is shown in contrast frequently.  One of the most frequent topics around the company water cooler after sports and the weather is kids.  People love to talk about their kids and passively brag about them.  But share any medical struggles or victories and you will suck all of the air out of the room.  You can’t just casually share that your child’s recent spinal fusion went well and you were relieved that he was not left wheelchair bound….well you can…but the next time you go to the water cooler, you will see all conversation abruptly halt.

It is hard to find people to confide in.  I belong to a men’s group at church.  This week was my turn to lead.  The topic was healing our wounds. As I prepared, I was excited.  I thought:  finally I will be in the room with other guys who will share the hard defining moments of their lives.  The readings were from/about Psalms, fatherhood and recovering from adversity.  But sadly as I went through the lesson plan; it was clear that machismo was trumping vulnerability.

And so I am left to confide in you, anonymous web. We may be few, but we are not alone.

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